Martin Seligman deserves to be better known.  This is saying something, because within his field, he is a major influence.  He’s written numerous best-selling books, and he’s reached the top of his profession.

So why does he deserve even greater accolades?  Because the more other people learn about him, the better off we all will be.  It’s really that simple.

Seligman is a major force behind the so-called “positive psychology” movement.  His books, including Learned Optimism, Authentic Happiness, and The Optimistic Child, are simple, powerful books that apply modern techniques of cognitive psychology to the basic question of whether we can learn to have a more positive outlook and, if so, whether we should do it.

Seligman, however, is more than an accomplished author.  Through his written works and his advocacy, he has championed the emerging field of positive psychology, which studies optimal human function.  This field treats psychology not principally as a study of pathology, but instead looks for (in my words) life’s best practices – things that humans can do to function more effectively in their everyday lives.

The idea is not new.  I could trace it back millennia (the Wiki article to which I linked above does an adequate job of that), and certainly Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Rollo May, and Albert Bandura focused on this concept in the prior century (as did Seligman himself).  But Seligman has revolutionized the field, pressing for a new emphasis not on what’s wrong with people, but how all of us can be made more right.

As with virtually every other form of study, the Internet has vastly improved our access to the positive-psychology work of Seligman and his colleagues.  The University of Pennsylvania’s Authentic Happiness site and Positive Psychology Center are useful places to start, but they are only the beginning.  Positive Psychology News is an excellent updater, and I found this list of links to be helpful as well.

I will be drawing on positive psychology on this blog.  Like Seligman, I believe we can derive best practices for the pleasant life, the good life, and the meaningful life.  The more these practices are studied, refined, introduced, and actually adopted, the better will be the human condition.

Take a look at some of the links.  Read some of Seligman’s materials.  And then let me know:  what works for you?  And where else have you found useful materials on positive psychology?